Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin

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George Harris Character Analysis

An intelligent man, slave to a cruel master, George escapes in the guise of a Spanish gentleman and later reunites with Eliza and defends his freedom against Tom Loker and Marks, who have been dispatched to capture them. George and his family make their way to Canada and finally to Africa, where he works for the cause of a free African republic.

George Harris Quotes in Uncle Tom's Cabin

The Uncle Tom's Cabin quotes below are all either spoken by George Harris or refer to George Harris. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Slavery and Race Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Bantam Books edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin published in 1981.
Chapter 2: The Mother Quotes

O yes!—a machine for saving work, is it? He’d invent that, I’ll be bound; let a nigger alone for that, any time.

Related Characters: George Harris
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

George's master will use any excuse possible to find a way to denigrate George and limit his freedom. George is a gifted engineer and inventor, and his machine really does save people time - enormous amounts of time. But George's owner (who is clearly jealous of his slave's intelligence) makes it seem that this invention is only created so that George can be "lazier." Of course, this discounts the ingenuity and work that goes into making machines like this. Here, the narrator makes clear that slave ownership is often predicated on a total lack of logic - on a system that supports itself by asserting that African Americans are inherently less valuable, intelligent, and even human than white Americans, even though there is no evidence to support this contention at all.

Slavery is therefore a system that sustains itself and perpetuates itself according to a code followed by white slave-owners, even by the "kind" ones. This system does not allow African Americans to express human emotions or aspirations, and denies that these emotions or aspirations are possible for them - even when African American characters clearly demonstrate a full range of human experience and creativity. 

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Chapter 3: The Husband and Father Quotes

I an’t a Christian like you, Eliza; my heart’s full of bitterness; I can’t trust in God. Why does he let things be so?

Related Characters: George Harris (speaker), Eliza Harris
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

Christian faith will be a key element in the novel, one that is returned to again and again by different characters and in different contexts. Here, George wonders aloud how a Christian God could allow the kind of injustice he observes in a slave system - how this might be possible if God is indeed on earth to protect all his children. Eliza, for her part, has an easier, though not entirely easy, job believing in God - her faith and position are more secure than George's, and she believes that, eventually, God will provide a way forward for them, for a life beyond slavery.

George and Eliza's romance is one of the central narrative axes of the novel. It is a love that is separated, again, by something so cruel and impersonal as a debt between two white men. And although Shelby is somewhat hurt by the idea of losing Uncle Tom and Eliza - because he does have a fondness for them - he believes that it is more important to protect "his honor" with Haley than it is to maintain Eliza and George's marriage on his farm. 

Chapter 17: The Free Man’s Defense Quotes

But you haven’t got us. We don’t own your laws; we don’t own your country; we stand here as free, under God’s sky, as you are; and, by the great God that made us, we’ll fight for our liberty till we die.

Related Characters: George Harris (speaker), Tom Loker, Marks
Page Number: 224
Explanation and Analysis:

George delivers this speech from a mountain-top to Loker, Marks, and the very idea of a "slave-catcher" attempting to hunt down and return a human being. George has learned a great deal from the Quakers, and he has also seen awakened within him his natural inclinations and passions - George knew all along that he was more than the equal of those around him, and his engineering skill and efforts around the farm demonstrated to him that he could do, think, and say whatever he pleased.

Thus George fights back against the notion that African Americans are in any way inferior to white Americans. This chapter, coming as it does on the heels of Marie's description of African American inferiority, serves as an important juxtaposition - a reminder of the slaves and former slaves who find occupations in the North and in Canada, and who move beyond the yoke of slavery into more fulfilling lives. 

Chapter 43: Results Quotes

I trust that the development of Africa is to be essentially a Christian one. If not a dominant and commanding race, they are, at least, an affectionate, magnanimous, and forgiving one.

Related Characters: George Harris (speaker)
Page Number: 494
Explanation and Analysis:

George believes that the best way for his family to grow and prosper is for that family to "give back" to African communities in Africa - to argue for a "Christian" project that helps those living in Africa to live good lives. On the one hand, George believes he is continuing on the mission that helped to save his life - he is following in the footsteps of the Quakers who helped him. 

But, again, viewed according to contemporary ideas, this section is at best problematic, because it shows that, even after escaping slavery, George is more interested in applying Western (and white) thought-systems to black experience in Africa. This does not mean that George willingly goes to Africa to "colonize" it, or to harm anyone - indeed, he only wishes to help. But the nature of his good works, which might have seemed straightforward in Beecher Stowe's time, might today be viewed with suspicion, as though George were going to Africa merely to spread Christian doctrine to a group of people who, largely, did not ask to receive this doctrine or invasive cultural influence. 

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George Harris Character Timeline in Uncle Tom's Cabin

The timeline below shows where the character George Harris appears in Uncle Tom's Cabin. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: The Mother
Slavery and Race Theme Icon
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Eliza, Mrs. Shelby's maidservant, is a fair-skinned mixed-race slave, married to another mixed-race slave named George Harris. George had been “leased” by his master to a bagging factory, and while there... (full context)
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George and Eliza got married while George was still at the factory in a formal ceremony... (full context)
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A week or two after George’s master removes him from the factory, the factory owner asks George's master whether he might... (full context)
Chapter 3: The Husband and Father
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Soon after Haley’s visit to Shelby, George visits Eliza at the Shelby estate. He bitterly complains of having to return to his... (full context)
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...that she has obeyed her master and mistress because it is Christian to do so. George agrees that she has been treated well but responds that he, however, has been treated... (full context)
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George says his circumstances must change; they make it difficult for him behave as a Christian... (full context)
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George announces he has decided to flee to Canada or die in the process. Eliza begs... (full context)
Chapter 4: An Evening in Uncle Tom’s Cabin
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...slave with a noble air. He practices his writing diligently and is tutored by “Mas’r George,” the thirteen-year-old son of George Shelby. As Tom perseveres at his lessons, Aunt Chloe remarks... (full context)
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George expresses his love of Aunt Chloe’s cooking as she serves him griddle cakes. George mentions... (full context)
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After George has eaten his fill, Aunt Chloe and the children eat. The children run around, roughhousing,... (full context)
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George agrees to read a Bible passage for the meeting, and soon a large group of... (full context)
Chapter 5: Showing the Feelings of Living Property on Changing Owners
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...human being might on being confronted with such horrible circumstances. Eliza asks Chloe to tell George that she loves him, that she and Harry are escaping to Canada, and that they... (full context)
Chapter 9: In Which It Appears That a Senator is but a Man
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...as they hear of Eliza’s heart-wrenching decision to risk her life for Harry, and of George’s cruel master. The Senator resolves to drive Harry and Eliza that night to a friend’s... (full context)
Chapter 10: The Property is Carried Off
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...has already lost 500 dollars at the Shelby estate. Tom gives his love to Master George, who is away at a friend’s and who has yet to learn of Tom’s sale.... (full context)
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...Haley replies that he will try to get Tom a household position. Meanwhile, outside, Master George arrives and offers Tom a dollar, which Tom denies graciously, saying it is of no... (full context)
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George promises Tom he will be good and bring Tom back. When Haley returns outside to... (full context)
Chapter 11: In Which Property Gets into an Improper State of Mind
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...light-skinned fugitive slave with an H branded on his hand, known to the reader as George Harris. An army veteran comes and spits tobacco juice on the poster, claiming that an... (full context)
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...believes he recognizes the newcomer. Following him to his suite, he calls to him as George, his former employee at the factory. George responds that it is he, and that he... (full context)
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Mr. Wilson and George argue further over the morality of George’s mission. George shows two pistols and a knife... (full context)
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George tells Wilson of his life. His father was a white Kentucky slaveholder who had children... (full context)
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George tells Wilson that his wife and child have escaped. Wilson gives George money, which George... (full context)
Chapter 13: The Quaker Settlement
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...will leave tonight with Eliza and Harry. He also reports that an escaped slave named Harris—George—has entered the settlement, and Ruth convinces him to tell Eliza the news immediately. Rachel does... (full context)
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The Quakers and the Harrises eat together the next morning. It is the first time George has eaten as a free man, at a table with whites. Simeon’s son asks what... (full context)
Chapter 14: Evangeline
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...notes in the margins of the Bible, Tom has marked up favorite sections from hearing George read to him. (full context)
Chapter 17: The Free Man’s Defense
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George and Eliza begin to plan their life in Canada. Eliza can wash clothes and work... (full context)
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George tells Eliza he loves her more than ever, but he wonders how God can defend... (full context)
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Another escaping slave, Jim, and his mother join Eliza, Harry, George, and Phineas on the trip to Canada. As they ride, a scout on horseback named... (full context)
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Loker, Marks, and the others arrive. Fearing a violent confrontation, George mounts the embankment and delivers a speech on his desire for freedom and willingness to... (full context)
Chapter 37: Liberty
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...the supervision of Aunt Dorcas, who is tending to his wounds. Loker announces that, if George, Eliza, and Harry are still there, they ought to get across the lake quickly, to... (full context)
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George, Eliza, and Harry travel to Sandusky, near the lake. Eliza has cut her hair in... (full context)
Chapter 41: The Young Master
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George Shelby, Jr., arrives at the Legree plantation. His father has recently passed away, Mrs. Shelby... (full context)
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...briefly, to hear about Tom and breaks down crying—her faith is Jesus is somewhat restored. George meets with Tom, who is greatly pleased that George has remembered him, and George begs... (full context)
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George curses Legree but Tom says he must not do so. Tom passes away, and George,... (full context)
Chapter 42: An Authentic Ghost Story
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Cassy and Emmeline get onto a steamship heading upriver, and while on it run into George Shelby, Jr.. Madame de Thoux, a French lady, and her twelve-year-old daughter also meet Shelby,... (full context)
Chapter 43: Results
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George Harris, Eliza, and Harry now live, after having been free five years, in a small... (full context)
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After returning to the United States (“political troubles” having started in France), George writes a letter to a friend arguing that he must take the side of black... (full context)